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Sean's Favorite Movies

  • Aug 8, 2009
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These are some of my favorite movies. I thought it would be fun to share with you all since there are quite a few movie folks here. These are only but a few. They're aren't in any real particular order.
Original Film Poster
Pulp Fiction is among my favorite films of all time.  It's stylistic characterization and it's excellent screenplay are two reasons to really love it.  The cast does a fantastic job, especially Samual L. Jackson who I feel was robbed of an Oscar for his amazing performance!  Tarantino's black humor and bloodshed isn't for everyone, but Pulp Fiction is still a fun film in and of itself.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
There's no such thing as a perfect movie but The Shawshank Redemption sure does come close.  I actually love this one because it makes me feel good after watching it.  This is despite it's overall dark and depressing nature.  Yet the movie ends on a happy note.  There are hardly any films that have such a perfect ending.
See the full review, "Fear Can Hold You Prisoner; Hope Can Set You Free".
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back is still the best Star Wars film out there.  Going well above and beyond the first one, this film leaves us with a hell of a cliff hanger and gives us a deeper look into the evil empire as well as Luke Skywalker.  There are so many interesting themes that we truly see just what Star Wars was.  Not just a film full of fantastic special effects, but a pretty absorbing story as well.
See the full review, "Among the Greatest Films Ever Made".
What can I say about The Dark Knight that hasn't been said?  It is by far the best Comic Book adaptation I've seen.  But it wasn't just like by comic book fans... but also by everyday movie goers.  It's a dark film, but works really hard to ensure that you've got action and an interesting story filled with interesting characters and some really deep and sometimes challenging themes.  It gets us to sort of think about what is truly evil and what being a hero really means.  Very few comic book movies go to the same degree The Dark Knight went to. It brings something fresh to comic book movies.  Mostly the sophistication that so many complain comic book movies are missing.  The Dark Knight transcends comic books and becomes something so much more.
See the full review, ""Upset the established order... and everything becomes chaos! I'm an agent of chaos."".
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope DVD
Then there is, of course, Star Wars.  Not just its special effects but that sense of hope that we find within the films themselves.  Empire may be the best, but the original is still a really good and fun movie.  The battle about The Death Star is still amazing to this day, especially Luke's triumph.  Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg to the philosophy and themes of Star Wars.  The first film introduced mesmerizing special effects and lessons that many of us can really enjoy.  Certainly the acting isn't the best, but it's still a rather fun and enjoyable film.
See the full review, "30 Years Later and Still a Remarkable Film".
Lost in Translation
If you couldn't tell, I enjoy movies that center on themes.  There are hardly as many movies out there that jump on theme quite like Lost in Translation.  A married middle-aged actor and a young newly wed woman meet in Toyko and realize that both of their relationships are missing something.  Something is lost.  The two slowly form a friendship that becomes something of love.  The final scene, in particular, is my favorite.  When we watch the two say goodbye.  I enjoy Lost in Translation primarily for that final scene, but also because I enjoy this idea of two married people--one who has been married for a while, and the other who just got married--getting lost and discovering themselves.  The theme itself isn't new, but Lost in Translation does it in such a broad way that it feels like something entirely different.
See the full review, "Getting Lost Can Be A Good Thing".
Rear Window
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the mortal Gods of cinema.  There, I said it.  And there's no movie that draws out the suspense quite Rear Window.  In terms of suspense, Rear Window is by far my favorite film.  Is our protagonists just bored and paranoid?  No, there's ACTUALLY something going on, and he manages to uncover it from the confines of his window.  Hitchcock always impressed me because with films like Dial M for Murder and Rear Window, he could do these films without having to take us to places we could only dream of.  Not to mention James Stewart is simply an amazing actor.
Movie poster
A disturbing, albeit very good film.  Alex is the leader of a gang and loves the ultraviolent.  When he's finally caught (thanks to his friends betraying him and leaving him to get captured by cops) he undergoes a type of Aversion Therapy that makes him sick whenever he has violent or sexual tendencies.  Has he been robbed of his free will or has society become safer?  What are the problems with doing such a thing to even a violent man?  Or, perhaps his actions were wound up like Clockwork?  Who knows for sure.  But it's a thought provoking film that is sure to start discussion from time to time.  It IS a little disturbing, but that's mainly because Kubrick is so in your face with his films.  A Clockwork Orange still remains among Kubrick's best.
DVD front
Christopher Nolan is among my favorite directors (like Kubrick and Tarantino).  Memento may seem like just a gimmick at first, but upon watching, the unique way in which this film is edited is something to appreciate.  We follow Leonard Shelby, a man who is afflicted with a memory condition.  He's out to find who killed his wife and he can do it... with a lot of help.  He's got tattoos all over his body and pictures to help him out.  Yet he'll also meet others who can help him... and those who will betray him... and others who will trick him for their own gain.  All because of a memory condition he no longer has control over.  The ending (beginning?) leaves you with a doozy to think about, but it's still by far one of Nolan's best films.
See the full review, "Do You Remember?".
Stand By Me
There are very few movie adaptations from Stephen King's work that are worth noting... but Stand By Me is one of them. This is King's favorite film that's been based off his work. Four boys go in search of a dead body, hoping it'll bring them fame when they find him. The film works because of the stark character development that presses on through the story. They leave as boys but come back much mature and bolder. It's a great movie about friendship and little boys being little boys.
See the full review, "Stand By This One".
Kill Bill Vol. 2
I enjoy Quentin Tarantino.  While Kill Bill Vol 1 is often the favorite of the two, Kill Bill Vol. 2 shows some of Tarantino's biggest strengths as a director and a screenwriter.  It's a very good conclusion to what volume one began.  It may not have as much action but it's got a ton of character development and a well written script.  The Bride finally comes face to face with the man who put her in a coma... with one twist... her daughter--who she thought was dead--is still alive, and Bill has been taking care of her.  Will she be able to finally Kill Bill?  There's a different style to this one.  It's much more subtle and far less violent.  But what it lacks in action and violence it more than makes up for in character development and story arc.  In such a way that for story lovers it blows Kill Bill Volume 1 out of the water.
See the full review, "One of Tarantino's Finest Films and a Stunning Conclusion to What Volume 1 Began".
Y Tu Mama Tambien
This little known independent film is a coming of age tale based on two best friends who go on a trip with a girl... whom they both lust for.  It's a coming of age tale but in a different sense.  If you're easily offended by sex you're probably going to hate this film.  But it's not as though the sex has no reason for being there.  Our two characters aren't especially likable, but they are teenage boys who grow through their trip and learn to appreciate each other too.  It's a little explicit in its sexuality, but not nearly as much as number 14 on this list!
American Beauty
The idea of the suburbs not being nearly as perfect as some would have you believe is nothing new, but very few do it quite as well as American Beauty.  In part because Kevin Spacey does a wonderful job in his role.  We watch a dysfunctional family fall apart before our eyes, but American Beauty is much more complex.  The father decides he won't be pushed around anymore, the wife unsexually satisfied has an affair, the plain daughter falls for the boy next door (who is abused by his homophobic father and happens to be a drug dealer).  Yet we're not beaten over the head with the characterization of each character.  In fact, we grow to like most of them.  Particularly Lester in the midst of his mid-life crisis.
If sex is really offensive to you, then yeah, The Dreamers isn't for you.  If incest offends you, then The Dreamers isn't for you.  But this film centers on an American Film Student in Paris during the Film Revolution.  He's a movie buff and meets two other movie buffs.  Twins, to be more precise.  But when they're parents are gone and they invite Matthew over, he discovers that the two enjoy playing sexual games with one another... and they soon bring Matt into their little world, where they aren't worried about the politics on the outside world... or even the outside world at all.  It as though they are in a dream... that soon comes to an end.  It's a bizarre film, and the sexuality will probably distract some people from the real meaning, but when you DO get that meaning, you discover just how good this movie really is.
Mysterious Skin
Again with the independent films?  Well, yeah, but Mysterious Skin is quite a good one... albeit, a little disturbing.  The movie centers on two boys who, in their childhood are sexually abused by their little league baseball coach.  One grows up and becomes a hustler while the other is so traumatized he thinks he was abducted by aliens.  Thus, one can't forget and the other can't remember.  We see the two lives of these boys, now men.  One is hustling and getting himself into trouble while the other is scared and timid.  But they both eventually have to face the truth about what happened long ago.  The one who can't remember, in particular.  Despite my little summary, the main focus of the movie is on these two as men and not as children.
The Prestige
Oh look, another Christopher Nolan film... and we have one more after this.  But The Prestige best shows why Nolan, like Quentin Tarantino can use a non-linear timeline.  The Prestige also shows best why Nolan is a master storyteller.  This film is about two rival magicians who only became rivals after a terrible accident marks the death of one's wife.  The rivialry begins innocently enough until it starts becoming deadly and one begins to play with wizardy in a way that no one ever should.
Wall-E was actually in production before being "green" was the cool thing.  Yet the movie is so relevant and does what it does without being preachy.  This is perhaps one of Disney/Pixars best films.  Around 800 or so years into the future, humans are now out in space because earth is so polluted that it can't be inhabited.  So they've left a bunch of robots to clean up.  Unfortunately, the clean up doesn't go well, and it seems there's only one robot left.  WALL-E.  Soon he's joined by Eva who is on a mission to prove that life can be sustained on earth.  But things don't go as planned when she finds a plant.  As when we see the humans in space, it seems that the auto-pilot of the Axiom was given different instructions and will stop it nothing to carry them out.  It's a very nice, very cute movie.  Among the best that Pixar has ever done.
Deluxe Edition DVD cover
Yep, another Christopher Nolan.  It's no where near as good as the other films on this list, but once again it shows why Nolan is a master storyteller.  It gets off to a somewhat slow start, but it becomes quite enjoyable later on down the line.  But as the title says, this is the beginning, and Nolan focuses quite a bit on what drives Bruce Wayne in a way very few Batman origin stories do.  Many misunderstand.  This isn't a crime fighting movie, it's a character building movie about a crime fighter (does that make sense?)  Nolan has never been one for high action, but he has always been one to focus quite strongly on his characters.  This is one of the best examples of how he does so.
Die Hard
There are some action movies that rather annoy me.  Action is fun, but I like fun and a bit of substance.  Die Hard happens to have both.  A hostage situation with terrorists turns deadly for them when they don't realize that one of the hostages hasn't been apprehended, and his name is John McClane.  Single-handedly he fights the terrorist... but unlike most action films, he's not quite a one man army.  In fact he gets quite messed up throughout the ordeal.  But his wisecracks and the nature of who he is is quite comforting.  It makes the movie enjoyable.  There are lots of guns blazing, but the situation is thrilling.  Many have often stated that Die Hard 2 is better.  I disagree.  The first Die Hard is the best of them all and has a uniqueness that the other three films lost long before the second was even released.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
If there's ever a movie that shows us previews aren't worth judging a film by, this would be it.  Pirates of the Caribbean didn't look like much, but upon watching it... the witty dialog and excellent performances of Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush keep things going smoothly.  The snappy and quick witted dialog is what makes Pirates of the Caribbean enjoyable, though.  In 2003 it may have been a favorite quotable film among many.  So it lands here at number 20.  It's fun, quick witted and gave us Jack Sparrow as an iconic character.
See the full review, "Surprisingly Delightful!".

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September 18, 2009
Awesome list.
August 11, 2009
Interesting choices. I was annoyed by THE PRESTIGE. Now I like science fiction as much as the next person, maybe more. But I don't like being misled as to the type of film I'm going to see. The was a problem that plague PAN'S LABYRINTH which suffered at the boxoffice due to mileading advertizing. (Fortunately I'd seen a lot of Del Toro's work and knew I wasn't going to be getting Peter Pan.)
About the list creator
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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